If you’re anything like I used to be, you may be savvy when it comes to sunscreen and moisturizers, but when it comes to self-tanning, fuhgedaboutit. 🙂 Luckily, I have done my research, and come up with the following fail-proof self-tanning guide (let me know what you think!):
Step 1. While you’re in the shower, exfoliate.
Self-tanners interact with the uppermost layer of skin, so if you want even coverage, you need to exfoliate. According to the May 2008 issue of Allure magazine, the exfoliator should be non-oily, because oily scrubs keep self-tanner from penetrating the skin. Two excellent recommendations are Neutrogena Energizing Sugar Body Scrub ($18.02 for two, Amazon.com) which is a gentle sugar scrub appropriate for normal or sensitive skin, and Bliss Lemon and Sage Body Scrub ($30.00, Amazon.com), which is a coarser scrub more appropriate for dry to very dry skin.
Step 2. Moisturize with a thin coat of lightweight moisturizer.
This step smooths the surface of your skin, prevents streaks, and dilutes the self-tanner a bit to let it glide over the skin smoothly, according to the May 2008 issue of Oprah magazine. You should concentrate the moisturizer more over dry areas such as knees, heels, and elbows, because this prevents the built-up skin cells in these areas from absorbing too much color, according to Allure. My favorite lightweight moisturizer is Vaseline Aloe Fresh Lotion ($3.99, Drugstore.com), which contains soothing aloe and cucumber, soybean, vitamin E, and retinyl palmitate, and leaves skin feeling cool and fresh. It is inexpensive too, which is great, considering that you need to redo this process every few days.
One recommended self-tanner is Clinique Radiant Bronze Face and Body Tinted Self-Tanner SPF 15 ($18.50, Clinique.com)
Step 3: Wear tight surgical gloves and apply the self-tanner.
An excellent latex-free glove is by Advanced Tool Design, and is available for $6.53 from Amazon.com. Be sure that the gloves fit snugly – the link above goes to a medium-size glove, but if you think you need small, click here, where they are $11.80 a pair (the cheapest I could find in small).
Next, keep standing. (I also recommend putting a few cheap towels on the floor.) Then, as Kara Peterson, who trains aestheticians at Clarins spas tells Oprah, “Think about where the sun hits…Start off in the middle of your thighs, and the middle of your calves, and blend out.” Your feet and knees only get what is left over. Similarly, on your upper body, start with the middle of your torso and arms, and blend out. Use short, upward strokes with your gloved palm when blending, and be sure to hyperextend your fingers so they don’t touch your skin, according to Allure. You only want the gloved palm rubbing the self-tanner into the skin in circular motions. Any excess residue should be applied to the back of the foot. After you remove the glove (one glove at a time), the excess should be applied to the back of each hand.
Step Four: Moisturize!
Ahhh, I love all this moisturizing… Experts like Linda Hay, makeup artist for Victoria’s Secret, recommend placing a shimmery lotion like Nars Body Glow ($59.00, Amazon.com) all over the back of your thighs, along your shins, and down to your feet, which “has a slimming effect,” according to Hay.
The bottom line
The perfect self-tan takes time and patience. I would reserve a solid hour for the process, more if you can. To maintain your tan, do not bathe or exercise for eight hours.
Happy self-tanning…let me know your thoughts! 🙂